[Claim for Deceased Army Member's Death Gratuity]

B-229295: Aug 10, 1988

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An individual appealed her denied claim for a death gratuity either for herself as the widow of a deceased Army member, or alternatively, for her children as his stepchildren. GAO had held that the deceased's mother should receive the gratuity. In her appeal, the claimant contended that: (1) she was entitled to the gratuity, since she was the surviving spouse; and (2) alternatively, her children were entitled to the gratuity, since they had resided with the deceased as his stepchildren. GAO held that the: (1) claimant did not qualify as a surviving spouse, since she married the deceased without dissolving her previous marriage; and (2) absence of a legal marriage between the claimant and the deceased precluded consideration of her children as his stepchildren. Accordingly, the claim was denied.

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